“Believe” in Matthew, Mark & Luke - Part 8:
Three studies ago we began examining the third time the Greek word “Pisteuo,” usually translated “believe,” is found in New Testament history. That was when Jesus Christ uttered it at the beginning of His ministry: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Mark 1:14 & 1514 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
. I identified five elements in Jesus' statement that need to be understood:
1) The significance of Jesus Christ's words,
2) The time referred to as being fulfilled,
3) The gospel of the Kingdom of God being preached,
4) The implications of that Kingdom being at hand,
5) The significance of repentance and belief.
In Vol 3, No 37we covered the first two elements, the third in study No 38 and the fourth in No 39. Today we will examine the fifth and last element in Jesus' statement, which is what brought us to this passage; the fact that He told His listeners to believe the gospel of the Kingdom of God. But we see that in addition to believing, Jesus included the caveat that they also had to repent and so we need to examine the significance of repentance in relation to believing. According to Smith's Greek-English Concordance there are three Greek words (or forms thereof) used in the King James New Testament (NT) that are translated with our English word repent. The Greek “metanoe'o,” used in this passage, is found 34 times in the NT. The e-Sword Live Bible program indicates it means to ”think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider.” Another source gives a similar meaning: “to perceive afterwards, hence, to change one's mind and purpose.” John the Baptist is recorded as having used it once when he came announcing Israel's Messiah, Matthew 3:22 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
. It is recorded 13 times as being uttered by Jesus, more often than anyone else in the NT and it is interesting and instructive that it is not found in John's Gospel but he used it 12 times in his book of Revelation.
After reading all the passages in which this word is used in the NT it is apparent the Holy Spirit inspired its use primarily concerning Israel's need for repentance. In fact it is used only once in the Pauline epistles and this points out the misunderstanding among many today as to what Jesus was taking about and to whom He was addressing in Mark 1:14 & 15. He was not talking to Gentiles in this passage. He was addressing His people, the Children of Israel exclusively, which He made clear when He said: “..., I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:2424 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
. At that time Gentiles were without hope and without God in the world; they were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel; they had no claim to the covenants of promise God had given to the Nation of Israel, Ephesians 2:11 & 1211 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
. And the reason the Nation of Israel did have hope in God in the world was because God had chosen and called them out from all the other people in the world in Abraham with whom He made covenants of promise, Genesis 15:1818 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
and circumcision, Genesis 17:1414 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
. He subsequently made additional covenants with Israel, including the Law given through Moses, Exodus 24:1 - 81 And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off.
2 And Moses alone shall come near the LORD: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him.
3 And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.
4 And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
5 And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD.
6 And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.
7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.
8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.
and the Kingdom through David, 2 Samuel 7:12 - 1612 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:
15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
16 And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.
. In fact, from the time of Abraham, as recorded in Genesis and throughout the Old Testament and on into the times of Jesus and the first part of Acts, the Jews had access to God but the Gentiles did not. Jews were provided the exclusive and only means to cover their sins and stay in a right relationship with God. During all that time the only hope Gentiles had to enjoy God's blessings was to become a Jew, that is, a proselyte. However, in spite of the fact Israel had these privileges, they failed miserably time and again to meet the terms of the Covenants. They finally rejected their Messiah by having Him crucified and then persecuting and killing His messengers during the time recorded in the first part of Acts when the Kingdom was offered to them.
So it becomes obvious what Jesus meant when He told Israel they must repent, i.e., have a change of heart and mind. Throughout His ministry He pointed out specifically how they failed to meet covenant obligations and what they needed to change. Israel's leaders had made a mockery of the Covenant of Law by adding burdensome requirements on the people but which they themselves failed to obey, Matthew 23:1 - 121 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
, and thus Jesus branded them hypocrites, Matthew 23:13 - 3313 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!
17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.
21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.
22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.
23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
. They had turned God's Temple into a den of thieves, Mark 11:1717 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.
; Luke 19:4646 Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.
and so twice, at the beginning of His ministry during the Passover, John 2:13 - 1613 And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;
16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.
, and at the end, also at the Passover, Matthew 21:12 & 1312 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
, Jesus forcefully went through the Temple and drove out those selling merchandise and turned over the tables of the money changers. One of their big problems was greed or the love of money and Jesus constantly pointed this out. He told them not to lay up riches on earth but in heaven, Matthew 6:19 & 2019 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
; He told them to sell all they had and distribute to the poor, Matthew 19:2121 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
; Mark 10:2121 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
; Luke 12:33 & 18:22. They were to repent, i.e., change their minds and purpose. A comparatively few did repent and believe as recorded in the first part of Acts, they sold all they had and truly followed the teaching of God's Kingdom here on earth. However, Israel as a whole didn't repent and believe so during the time recorded in the book of Acts God temporarily set them aside as explained by the Apostle Paul in Romans 9, 10 & 11.
Jesus message to Israel when He was here was that they were to repent and believe, or have faith, in the gospel of the Kingdom of God. We discussed the gospel of the Kingdom of God at length in Vol 3, No 38dated September 14, 2010 and you are directed to that study on my website for a description thereof. The point here is that He was telling the Nation of Israel that in order to be saved, i.e., to be one of His; to have eternal life with Him; to be part of His Kingdom here on earth, they had to repent or turn away from their hypocritical treatment of God's law and believe from the heart the gospel or good news of the Kingdom of God. And this was to accept the fact He was their Messiah, the Son of God, and only in Him could they be saved for He was the way, the truth and the life and that no one could approach God unless it was through Him, John 14:66 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
. This was the thrust or point of His 3-year ministry and is why those who did believe were told to pray: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1010 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
. This was their hope, God's Kingdom on earth and for His will to be done here, as it is in heaven.